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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long losing streak to the Buffalo Sabres in their last game. They will try to do halt another losing skid - this one against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday when the teams meet at Mellon Arena in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Pittsburgh (18-15-6) knocked off Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo 4-2 on Friday for its third straight win.
Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Whitney and Jordan Staal each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who have outscored opponents 11-3 during the three-game streak. They ended a seven-game winless skid to the Sabres with their first victory in the series since Dec. 16, 2003.
Pittsburgh shut out defending champion Carolina 3-0 on Tuesday, giving it consecutive wins over both of last season's Eastern Conference finalists.
"We've played some big games against some big teams," Staal said. "Carolina was a huge game for us, and now that we got this one we have a good feeling. Hopefully we'll keep it going."
Star center Sidney Crosby had one assist Friday, increasing his league-leading point total to 62.
"We knew this was going to be a big challenge and a big test," Crosby said. "We respected them, but we had confidence that we could beat them as well."
Malkin's power-play goal with three seconds left in the second period snapped a 2-all tie and gave Pittsburgh some momentum heading into the third. The Penguins have yet to lose a game in regulation when leading after 40 minutes this season (12-0-3).
"Going in with the lead after we were down was big," Crosby said. "That set the tone for that third where we were able to go for that win."
Marc-Andre Fleury has been outstanding in net lately for the Penguins, stopping 92 of 95 shots during the three-game streak. Fleury, however, is 0-3 with two overtime losses and a 3.41 goals-against average lifetime against Tampa Bay.
Fleury isn't the only Penguin that has struggled against the Lightning. Pittsburgh has seven regulation losses, one in overtime and another in a shootout against Tampa Bay since a 3-2 victory on Jan. 17, 2003.
Vincent Lecavalier scored 2:41 into overtime at Pittsburgh on Nov. 8, lifting the Lightning to a 4-3 victory in the first meeting this season.
This is the final stop on a four-game road trip for the Lightning (19-21-2), who are coming off a 4-2 loss Friday to Colorado.
Tampa Bay has lost four of six since matching a season high with three straight wins.
Marc Denis made 28 saves in his second straight start, ending his personal three-game win streak.
"Marc gave us a chance to fight back into the game," Tampa Bay associate coach Craig Ramsay said. "It's frustrating when we are given that opportunity and we can't seem to get it done."
Right wing Martin St. Louis had an assist to extend his point streak to six games, but it's Lecavalier that has enjoyed the most success against the Penguins.
Lecavalier has 11 goals and four assists in his last 10 games versus Pittsburgh.
These teams meet again on Tuesday in Tampa Bay.
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